Another type of gift
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said: ‘Silver and Gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk’. — Acts 3 versus 5, 6 (New England translation)
I was all set to write the story of Randy, Troy, Sam and Leslie – four younger Barbadians living in New York, and who to my mind, represent what I call a shift in generational thinking. However, my thoughts got trapped between the President’s State of the Union address, Mayor Bloomberg’s address to the city and good old St. Valentines, between Hilltops Community Association Valentine’s party on February 14, and the Friends of Barbados DLP ‘ pre-election party on President’s day, Monday February 17, and between philanthropy and charity. In the end, as time passed, I still felt free with my love for Barbados, stronger than ever.
Too often, in political campaigns “poli-tricks” and hate block the search for truth, and good ideas are buried in coffins of charity, and draped with flowers that hide the significant contributions of the wounded. Finally, when the votes are counted, the heartbroken soul sees red — especially, if their golden years end unceremoniously and abruptly.
In contrast, when the beggar at the temple called Beautiful came asking alms, the apostles Peter and John did not give him charity but offered what they had control of. Ultimately, the beggar left with more than he expected because Peter and John were philanthropic. Truth be told, the beggar now had the capacity to contribute to the society in a far more significant way.
Here is another example of giving.
Last Monday, President Obama added the expansion of kindergarten education to his agenda. This reminded me of two things: the Barbadian mothers who read to their children who were in their wombs; and the postman who learned languages and Shakespeare at primary school and who often offered to help me with Latin when I was at Harrison College.
And then, when the president lauded the collaboration between New York public schools, City University of New York and IBM that will allow students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering,
I again reflected on Barbados in the past and recalled that some secondary school students of the ’60s and ’70s not only completed 2nd year University course work but others graduated having done two years of wood or technical work from the Technical Institute at St Leonard’s school.
This time those reflections and comparisons symbolically lit the candle of Bajan pride.
And now to Mayor Bloomberg who has now proposed the ban of Styrofoam. Needless to say, many businesses will cry shame, but Bloomberg’s approach to development comprises a series of activities that can be clearly identified, have known outcomes, often target a large percentage of the city’s population and has an implied educational component.
As Barbadians delve into the political parties’ manifestos, let me say that the school system is the last pillar of organised assembly that can enable meaningful restructuring and transformation within modern societies. Using the Bloomberg model I offer a few ideas for my manifesto for a renewed Barbados:
1. Allocate the responsibility for governance to the social partnership with the Prime Minister as chair and the union boss and private sector head as co-chairs.
(2) Create a Human Enterprise Council to advise, lead, design and provide projects for approval by the social partnership.
(3) Zone the schools into four regions with feeder schools and expanded management structure.
(4) Have a five and half hour school day with a 10 a.m. start and add project assessment and exhibitions in areas of science, innovation, history and geography of Barbados.
(5) Upgrade BIMAP into a centre for teaching thinking quality and innovation.
(6) Ban the university from offering places to students with remedial needs and mandate it to develop and offer courses that kick start educational tourism.
(7) Offer a tax break to business that commit to transfer from retail into export.
This is not original. It is Joel Olsten’s joke but it explains why voters should check both sides.
A wife was sure that her neighbour did not know how to wash. And, every day she would look through her glass window and find every fault in the neighbour’s washing which hung on the line. The goodly wife invited her husband to be the bearer of bad news.
I’ll teach them she said. I will even buy the soap. A week later the wife gave her husband a big hug and a kiss. Amazed by her actions, he asked, Why do you kiss me, it’s not valentine?
I just checked. Today, the laundry is clean. Spotless, in the same way that I wash your shirt.
Darling, the husband said, I didn’t go anywhere, I cleaned the window.
Hopefully, you spent some quality time with your Valentine and as the politicians wash their dirty linen in public, you will clean your glasses or open your eyes before voting.